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Non-technical individual skills are weakly connected to the maturity of agile practices

Journal article
Authors Lucas Gren
Alessia Knauss
Christoph Johann Stettina
Published in Information and Software Technology
Volume 99
Pages 11-20
ISSN 0950-5849
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Computer Science and Engineering (GU)
Pages 11-20
Language en
Keywords Agile practices, Code quality, Empirical study, Skills
Subject categories Software Engineering, Learning


Context: Existing knowledge in agile software development suggests that individual competency (e.g. skills) is a critical success factor for agile projects. While assuming that technical skills are important for every kind of software development project, many researchers suggest that non-technical individual skills are especially important in agile software development. Objective: In this paper, we investigate whether non-technical individual skills can predict the use of agile practices. Method: Through creating a set of multiple linear regression models using a total of 113 participants from agile teams in six software development organizations from The Netherlands and Brazil, we analyzed the predictive power of non-technical individual skills in relation to agile practices. Results: The results show that there is surprisingly low power in using non-technical individual skills to predict (i.e. explain variance in) the mature use of agile practices in software development. Conclusions: Therefore, we conclude that looking at non-technical individual skills is not the optimal level of analysis when trying to understand, and explain, the mature use of agile practices in the software development context. We argue that it is more important to focus on the non-technical skills as a team-level capacity instead of assuring that all individuals possess such skills when understanding the use of the agile practices.

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